71% of nation's homes mailed back census

Slightly more than 72 percent of U.S. households believed to be occupied mailed back their 2010 Census forms, the same rate that was achieved in 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau announced this week.In the fall of 2010, the Census Bureau will release a final "mail return rate" after census workers double-check the occupancy status of all households that didn't return a census form. "This is a significant achievement; the nation has stepped up to the challenge of participating in this once-a-decade civic event," said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. "We knew the job would be more difficult in 2010 than in 2000, yet the nation responded tremendously." America responded despite trends over the past decade toward declining survey participation, a more diverse population, a difficult economic environment and a growing distrust of government. To motivate increased mail participation, the Census Bureau challenged communities nationwide to work to improve the participation rates they achieved in the 2000 Census. Twenty-eight states met or exceeded their 2000 Census rates, and 11 more were within one point of matching their rates (see separate news release). Numerous cities and counties also matched or exceeded their rates. States with the highest mail participation rates include: Wisconsin (81 percent), Minnesota (80 percent), Iowa (78 percent) and Indiana (78 percent). North Carolina and South Carolina achieved the greatest percentage point increase among all states, both increasing by 9 percentage points (North Carolina jumped from 66 to 74 percent; South Carolina from 65 to 73 percent). Cities with populations of 50,000 or more with the highest rates were Livonia, Mich. (87 percent), Rochester, Minn. (82 percent) and Sterling Heights, Mich. (82 percent). Charleston, S.C., achieved the greatest point increase (jumping 9 percentage points from 64 to 73 percent). Three cities increased by 8 percentage points: Minneapolis (from 68 to 76 percent); Miramar, Fla. (from 65 to 73 percent) and Surprise, Ariz. (from 63 to 71 percent). Downey had a participation rate of 72 percent, city officials said. The rates for all states, counties, cities, towns and neighborhoods are on the Census Bureau's interactive mail participation rate map at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/. The nation's response helps pave the way for the next phase of the 2010 Census: the deployment of 635,000 census takers across the country who will go door to door to obtain census responses from all remaining households. The temporary census workers are in training this week and will begin obtaining census responses this weekend. All census workers will carry appropriate identification and will only ask the questions that appear on the census. Information collected through the census is confidential and it is illegal for the Census Bureau or its employees to share residents' personal information. The Census Bureau is urging households to open their doors to their local census taker and will provide more information on this operation at a news briefing May 3. Being counted in the census is important because the information collected will affect funding for the community. Each year, the federal government distributes more than $400 billion to cities based partially on census data. The money is used to repair our roads, provide funding for our police and fire departments, and fund schools and other services.

********** Published: April 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 2